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Publication numberUS6194904 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 09/082,291
Publication dateFeb 27, 2001
Filing dateMay 19, 1998
Priority dateMay 19, 1998
Fee statusLapsed
Also published asUS6564455, US20010052180
Publication number082291, 09082291, US 6194904 B1, US 6194904B1, US-B1-6194904, US6194904 B1, US6194904B1
InventorsGary A. Clayton, Douglas G. Hastings
Original AssigneeR-Tec Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Socket test probe and method of making
US 6194904 B1
Abstract
A socket test probe and a method of making the probe which results in a probe head which has flat plates which serve as electrodes encased in resin. The electrodes are conductive plates with one or more edges of the conductive plates exposed for connection to the electrodes of a socket. The entire probe head starts as a solid block of conductive material which is drilled, machined, filled with resin and machined again to form a socket testing probe utilizing the edges of conductive plates as electrodes.
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Claims(15)
What is claimed is:
1. A socket test probe for attachment to a testing device, for testing integrated circuit (IC) sockets configured for receiving semi conductor chips, comprising:
a probe body to which is attached a test probe;
a test probe which is attached to said probe body, and which has a first end and a second end, with said first end attached to said probe body, and said second end forming a probe head dimensioned similarly to a semi-conductor chip, for insertion into a socket designed to receive a semi-conductor chip of specified dimensions;
electrodes exposed along one or more sides of said probe head, which extend contiguously through said probe body, and which are embedded within said test probe head and said probe body in a resin matrix, said electrodes consisting of outside edges of a plurality of flat generally rectangular conductive plates, each with an outside edge facing away from said probe head, an inside edge facing a center of said probe head, a top edge opposite to a probe interface, and a bottom edge adjacent to said probe interface;
electrical connections with a first end and a second end, attached at said first end to said bottom edges of said electrical plates, and at said second ends to connection positions at a probe interface; and
said probe interface for electrical connection to said testing device, mounted to said probe body, containing electrical connection positions which are connected to said conductive plates by said electrical connections.
2. The device of claim 1 which further comprises one or more positioning holes or pins in or on said probe body which are configured to interconnect with corresponding positioning holes in or pins on a testing device designed to connect with said test probe.
3. The device of claim 1 in which said probe interface comprises a printed circuit board.
4. The device of claim 3 in which said probe interface connection positions are solder knobs, which encase a second end of said electrical connection.
5. The device of claim 1 in which said conductive plates further comprise a protrusion in said outer edge which makes the electrodes of said probe head similar in shape to semiconductor chips with flared electrodes.
6. The device of claim 5 which further comprises multiple spaced apart protrusions in said outer edges of said conductive plates and said resin layers, so that said probe head can be machined off to expose new electrode surfaces when one electrode set becomes worn.
7. The device of claim 1 which further comprises beveled top edges of probe head.
8. The device of claim 1 which further comprises one or more conductive plates with a surface which defines one or more holes, notches, or other structures, through which resin is contiguous from one side of said plate to another, for resisting delamination of said layers of conductive plates and said resin.
9. A socket test probe for attachment to a testing device, for testing sockets with socket electrodes and configured for receiving semi conductor chips, comprising:
a solid probe body to which is attached a test probe;
a generally rectangular solid test probe with probe electrodes separated by non-conductive resin layers, for contacting said socket electrodes, each probe electrodes consisting of generally rectangular conductive plates machined from said probe body, each conductive plate having a top edge opposite a probe interface, a bottom edge adjacent said probe interface, an inner edge facing a center of said probe head, and an outer edge facing away from said probe head, and arranged along one or more sidewalls of said probe so that said outer edge of each said conductive plate is exposed along said sidewall and forms a probe electrode, said inner edge is enclosed within said resin in said interior of said test probe, and with said bottom edge connected to an electrical connection, and with said electrode extending contiguously as a rectangular plate from said sidewall of said probe to said solid probe body;
electrical connections with a first end and a second end, attached at said first end to said bottom edges of said electrical plates, and at said second ends to a connection positions at a probe interface; and
a probe interface for electrical connection to said testing device, mounted to said probe body, containing electrical connection positions which are connected to said conductive plates by said electrical connections.
10. The device of claim 9 which further comprises one or more positioning holes or pins in or on said probe body which are configured to interconnect with corresponding positioning holes in or pins on a testing device designed to connect with said test probe.
11. The device of claim 9 in which said probe interface comprises a printed circuit board.
12. The device of claim 11 in which said probe interface connection positions are solder knobs, which encase a second end of said electrical connection.
13. The device of claim 9 in which said conductive plates further comprise a protrusion in said outer edge which makes the electrodes of said probe head similar in shape to semiconductor chips with flared electrodes.
14. The device of claim 13 which further comprises multiple spaced apart protrusions in said outer edges of said conductive plates and resin layers, so that said probe head can be machined off to expose new electrode surfaces when one electrode set becomes worn.
15. The device of claim 9 which further comprises beveled top edges of probe head.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to test probes for integrated circuit (IC) sockets, and more particularly to a test probe and a manner of making the test probe for insertion into integrated circuit sockets.

2. Background Information

Integrated circuits are commonly made with sockets for receiving semi-conductor chips. During the production process, these sockets are tested to be sure that all of their electrodes are connected and that they mate correctly with the electrodes of the socket to be inserted. To test the IC socket, a test probe is inserted into the socket. The test probe has electrodes which make contact with the electrodes of the socket. The electrodes of the test probe are connected to a testing device which can perform diagnostic testing of the socket and its relation to other circuitry in the IC. These sockets are typically mounted on printed circuit boards (PCB) and many such devices are connected to each other by circuitry in the PCB. An individual socket test probe is inserted into a large number of sockets to be tested during the lifetime of the test probe. These repeated insertions and removals cause wear on the electrodes of the test probe, and finding a design of a socket test probe which provides reliable connections, and durability after repeated insertions, is an ongoing problem. As the number of electrodes in these sockets has increased, the electrodes have become smaller and the spacing between them has also become closer. Therefore, the electrodes of the socket test probe must also be tightly packed together, and yet remain completely isolated from neighboring electrodes, accurately placed, small in width, and extremely durable. Achieving these goals has been difficult in prior art electrodes.

One socket test probe which attempts to resolve this problem is that of Tan, U.S. Pat. No. 5,436,570. Tan utilizes metal pins embedded in resin as the electrodes of a probe head. The sides of the probe head are machined so that the pins are partially exposed. The partially exposed sides of the pins form the electrodes of the probe head. According to Tan, the pins are to be machined so that less than fifty per-cent of their diameter is machined away. In actual practice, it is not uncommon for more than fifty per cent of a pin to be ground through. When this happens, the remaining portion of the pin is not very strongly held in the surrounding resin. After repeated uses, a pin can come loose from the resin and be peeled away from the probe head, and further use of that probe head will damage the sockets being tested.

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a socket test probe which has the capability of simulating narrow, closely spaced electrodes, but which will be durable for multiple insertions, and is not highly sensitive to machining errors during production.

A further object is a socket tester in which the electrodes do not become dislodged from the probe head and peel away from it.

Another object of the invention is to provide a process for making such a socket probe tester.

A further object of the invention is to provide a socket probe tester with the capability of renewing its electrode surfaces when they show wear.

Additional objects, advantages and novel features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description as follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These and other objects are attained by a socket test probe, which is designed for attachment to a socket testing device. The socket test probe is utilized in testing electrical sockets which are themselves designed to receive semi-conductor chips on an integrated circuit. The socket test probe includes a probe body, which is a generally square or rectangular piece, generally made of a conductive material. The outside walls of the probe body enclose a central opening which extends throughout its length. Inside the central opening is mounted a generally rectangular test probe. The test probe is mounted inside the probe body by a region of non-conductive resin. The test probe has four sidewalls and includes alternating layers of non-conductive resin and conductive plates, typically made of copper or other conductor. Each plate is generally rectangular and has a top edge, bottom edge, inner edge, and an outer edge. The plates are arranged along one or more sidewalls of the test probe, so that an outer edge of each conductive plate is exposed along the length of the sidewall, and serves as the electrode for the probe. The inner edge and the sides of the conductive plate are enclosed within the resin of the test probe. A bottom edge of the test probe is connected to an electrical connection, typically a copper wire attached to the conductive plate. One end of the test probe forms a four-sided test probe head, and the other end of the test probe terminates with exposed ends of the conductive plates where they attach to electrical connectors. The exposed plate edges and/or plate top edges form the electrodes along one or more sides of the probe head, or along the top of the probe head. The electrical connectors terminate in a probe interface, which is mounted to the probe body adjacent to the ends of the conductive plates.

The probe body can contain one or more positioning holes, or holes in the probe body can be mounted with a positioning pin. The positioning holes or pins in the probe body are configured to connect with matching positioning holes or pins in a testing device, which is designed to receive the test probe. The probe interface of the device typically is made from printed circuit board type material. On the probe interface are interface connection positions in which the second end of the wire is encased by solder knobs. The socket test probe described above can also have probe heads which are not perfectly rectangular in shape, but can fit any particular socket shape. The edges of the probe head can be beveled, or they can include a protrusion along the lower rim to simulate a “gull wing” or “live bug” semi-conductor chip. The probe head can also include a ridge on each of the electrodes and resin layer to simulate a “dead bug” type semi-conductor chip, which uses a “round knob” connection. The probe head can also include multiple examples of these ridges, flares and other probe head tip shapes. The purpose of multiple spaced-apart protrusions such as this is so that when electrode surfaces being utilized show signs of wear, they can be machined down to expose a new set of electrode surfaces which also have a “gull wing” or other configuration. The socket testing probe described above can also have one or more holes which pass through the conductive plates, and which is filled with resin. This makes the resin contiguous from each side of one plate to another, and aids in preventing delamination of the conducting plates from the resin.

Another aspect of the invention is the method of making the socket test probe. These steps start with a solid rectangular block of conductive metal, such as copper, and machining a recess on one end of the block. This recess leaves an outer rim around the end, and defines a moat around a rectangular tower of metal from the original solid block of metal. The next step is drilling a central hole through the tower of metal and all the way through the block to the other side. Starting from the central hole just drilled, the hole is expanded into a central channel with fluted side channels which define three sides of a number of plates. Electro-discharge machining has been found to be highly effective for this machining, although other methods could work just as well, such as high pressure water jet cutting or plasma cutting. The central channel and fluted side channels define three sides of a number of conductive plates. At this point, the fourth side of each plate is still attached to the original block of metal which was the starting point. After the central channel has been machined by EDM, electrical connectors are attached to these ends of the conductive plates which protrude into the recess. Then the central channel and part of the recess in the block is filled with a liquid resin. During the filling, precautions are taken to remove bubbles from the resin. This can be by a vibration, by filling slowly from the bottom, or by the use of a highly viscous resin, or by use of a vacuum chamber. The recess is filled to a level even with corner bosses in the recess, covering all the conductive plates. Next, the remaining block of metal is machined on the second end of the metal block down to the resin core which is in the central channel of the block. By machining down to this resin core, a rectangular test probe is left, with the outside edges of the conductive plates exposed and forming electrodes for contact with a socket. This machining is extended slightly into the moat now filled with resin, thereby isolating the conductive plates from contact with the metal block from which they originated and leaving the metal plates encased in resin. Each has an outside edge exposed, to serve as an electrode, and is connected to the metal block by the remaining resin in the moat. The end of the block opposite the recess now forms a probe head. The next step is connecting the electrical connections to a probe interface for communication with a matching interface of a testing device. The electrical connectors are typically copper wires, and are connected to the probe interface by putting the wires through holes in the PC board, stripping the wires, pushing the wires back into the PC board, soldering the wires to the PCB, and trimming the wires, which leaves a solder knob on the outside of the PC board and the probe interface.

The method can also include the step of drilling one or more positioning holes in the rim around the recess of the metal block. The hole can be used to mount a positioning pin, or the hole can interconnect with a positioning pin from corresponding pins in a testing device designed to connect with the test probe. An optional step can include machining the probe head of the metal block to leave a protrusion on the outer edge which makes the electrodes of the probe head similar in shape to semi-conductor chips with flared electrodes. A number of these protrusions can be arranged in spaced apart positions on the test probe, so that when one becomes worn, it can be machined away and the next electrode set can be utilized. The method can also involve machining the probe head edge to form a beveled edge. The method can also involve drilling one or more holes through the metal block, so that the hole passes through the conductive metal plates. When the central channel is filled with resin, the resin passes through the holes and connects the conductive plates together with a contiguous resin rod. This contiguous resin rod helps resist delamination of the layers of the conductive plates and the resin layers.

Still other objects and advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in this art from the following detailed description wherein I have shown and described only the preferred embodiment of the invention, simply by way of illustration of the best mode contemplated by carrying out my invention. As will be realized, the invention is capable of modification in various obvious respects all without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawing and description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the socket testing probe.

FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view of the metal block with a recess and various structures machined out of it.

FIG. 3 is an end view of the metal block showing the recess, and the moat around the tower.

FIG. 4 is an end view of the metal block showing a central channel machined out of the metal tower.

FIG. 5 is a view of the second end of the metal block showing the central channel machined out of the metal block.

FIG. 6 is a side cross-sectional view of the metal block showing the central channel cut through the center of the block.

FIG. 7 is a side cross-sectional view of the metal block showing the recess partially filled with resin and the central channel filled with resin, and showing the positioning of future machining cuts.

FIG. 8 is a view of the first end of the metal block, showing the conductive plates extending out of the resin and attached to electrical connectors.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the metal block with a first machining cut made to shape a probe head.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the metal block with a second machining cut made to form a rectangular probe head.

FIG. 11 is a side cross-sectional view of a socket test probe showing the edge view of the conductive plates.

FIG. 12 is a side cross-sectional view of the socket test probe showing the sides of the conductive plates.

FIG. 13 is a side view of a test probe socket showing a gull wing configuration.

FIG. 14 is a side view of a socket test probe showing multiple gull wing projections.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Several preferred embodiments of the invention are shown in FIGS. 1 through 14. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the device. The socket test probe of FIG. 1 is preferably made from a solid block of copper, and has a probe head with electrodes which are the exposed edges of copper plates which were originally part of the solid block of copper, but which have been machined from the solid block and isolated in resin, so that they are no longer in physical contact with other elements of the copper block. One aspect of the invention is a probe head which utilizes generally rectangular plates encased in resin, each with an exposed edge which serves as an electrode, with the rest of the plate embedded in resin. This probe can be made by a variety of methods. A preferred method is another aspect of the invention. The subsequent figures illustrate this method.

Starting with a solid block of copper 32 approximately 2″2″2″, a recess 34 is machined into a first end 36 of the block 32. A side view of the recess 34 is shown in FIG. 2 and a view looking down into the recess is shown in FIG. 3. The recess 34 is cut so that a rim 38 is left around the first end 36, and corner bosses 40 are left for later drilling out. A moat 42 is incised into the block, leaving a tower 44 from the original material of the block of copper 32. Next, corner holes 46 are drilled to a depth approximately equal to the depth of the moat 42. A central hole 68 is drilled down the center of the tower 44 through the length of the block of copper 32 and out the second end 48 of the block of copper. Optionally, one or more reinforcing holes 50 can be drilled from the right side 52 to the left side 54 of the block of copper 32.

The next step of processing involves the use of wire electro discharge machining or EDM. In wire EDM, a very fine wire is tightly stretched and electricity is passed through the wire. When the wire touches a conductive surface, the surface it touches is basically vaporized. This technique is used on the socket test probe by extending an EDM wire through central hole 68. This wire extends all the way through the block and is made taut in the central hole 68 and energized. The EDM wire then is passed through the metal of the tower 44 and block 32 to form a central channel 70 with a shape similar to that shown in FIG. 4. The fins or fluted structures in what was tower 44 are three sides of what will become the conductive plates 56 and will form the electrodes 58 of the socket test probe 10. FIG. 4 shows the conductive plates 56 after the EDM process, as seen from the first end 36 of the block 32. This type of machining results in tolerances of 0.0001 inch, and can achieve very fine spacing of electrodes and gaps between electrodes.

FIG. 5 shows the central channel 70 from the second end 48 of the block 32.

FIG. 6 shows a side cross-sectional view of the socket test probe after the EDM machining. Next, electrical connectors 20 are attached to the conductive plates 56 located in the region of the recess 34. These are typically copper wires and use any of a number of conventional methods of attachment to the conductive plates 56. A slip-on friction cap 60 is shown in FIG. 6.

Next, the recess 34, including the moat 42 and the central channel 70, including the regions between the conductive plates 56 is filled with a two part, high dielectric strength resin 62, as shown in FIG. 7. The resin 62 is non-conductive, and forms a machinable solid when it is fully cured. It is poured to a level even with the corner bosses. The resin 62 is poured so that there are no voids or bubbles between conductive plates 56. Techniques which aid in removing bubbles include using a highly viscous resin, filling it slowly so that voids fill from the bottom towards the top, using a vibration device to shake bubbles free as the resin 62 fills, or using a vacuum chamber to remove bubbles.

FIG. 8 is a view of the recess 34 filled with resin 62, with the ends of the conductive plates 56 enclosed and with their friction caps 60 installed, thus connecting them to electrical connections 20.

Next, part of the block 32 is machined away, removing the remaining continuity between the conductive plates 56 and the block 32. FIG. 9 shows the first such machine cut, in which the corner hole 46 is exposed and part of the moat 42, now filled with resin 62, is also exposed. After the cut shown in FIG. 9, the conductive plates 56 are still attached along one of their four edges to the block 32. They are also fully encased on three sides by resin 62. Further cuts are made and FIG. 10 shows a cut which exposes the outside edges 64 of the conductive plates 56, each separated by a layer of resin 62. The second end 48 of the block 32 is thus machined to expose the conductive plates 56 and machined into the shape of a semi-conductor chip (not shown) which the socket is designed to accept.

FIG. 11 is a view of the socket test probe 10 after machining cuts have been made to expose the probe head 14. After machining is complete, a printed circuit board 26 is installed at the first end 36 of the block 32. In the printed circuit board 26, holes 66 are drilled and the electrical connections 20 are extended through the holes. The electrical connections 20 are soldered in place in the holes, forming solder knobs. The soldered knobs 28 on the circuit board 26 from a probe interface 22. FIG. 12 shows a cross-sectional view of the finished device parallel to the conductive plates 56.

The probe head 14 can be finished in different shapes to match the socket being simulated. These shapes can be of the rectangular shape shown in FIG. 1. It can also be what is known as a “gull wing” shape, as shown in FIG. 13. The “gull wing”, or “live bug” shape is used for a chip whose electrodes are splayed outward from below. That same chip can be inverted to what is called a “dead bug” configuration, and the ridge or “rounded knob” on the probe head 14 would be in a slightly different configuration. The probe head 14 can have a bevel on the sides, to make entry into the socket smoother. The probe head 14 can also have multiple “gull wing” or “rounded knob” type protrusions on its sides, as shown in FIG. 14. The purpose of this is so that when the electrodes 58 are worn, the probe head 14 can be machined down to expose a new set of gull wing electrodes. A rectangular head can also be resurfaced in this manner.

While there is shown and described the present preferred embodiment of the invention, it is to be distinctly understood that this invention is not limited thereto but may be variously embodied to practice within the scope of the following claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6441627 *Oct 26, 1998Aug 27, 2002Micron Technology, Inc.Socket test device for detecting characteristics of socket signals
US6846735Sep 5, 2002Jan 25, 2005Bridge Semiconductor CorporationCompliant test probe with jagged contact surface
US7122760 *Nov 25, 2002Oct 17, 2006Formfactor, Inc.Using electric discharge machining to manufacture probes
US7208936 *Apr 12, 2004Apr 24, 2007Intel CorporationSocket lid and test device
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Classifications
U.S. Classification324/750.25, 324/754.03, 324/755.01
International ClassificationG01R1/04
Cooperative ClassificationY10T29/49004, Y10T29/49147, Y10T29/49007, G01R1/0408, Y10T29/49126, Y10T29/4922, Y10T29/49204, Y10T29/49208
European ClassificationG01R1/04S
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 19, 1998ASAssignment
Owner name: R-TEC CORPORATION, IDAHO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CLAYTON, GARY A.;HASTINGS, DOUGLAS G.;REEL/FRAME:009261/0596
Effective date: 19980609
Aug 25, 2004FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Sep 8, 2008REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Feb 27, 2009LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Apr 21, 2009FPExpired due to failure to pay maintenance fee
Effective date: 20090227